Te Puke's foodbank is heading into the holiday period in good shape.

Last week's emergency services food collection around the streets of Te Puke brought in a huge amount for the EmpowermentNZ-run foodbank.

Te Puke volunteer fire fighters and Te Puke police officers took part in the food drive, and food was also collected in Pukehina by police and fire fighters and by Maketū Volunteers.

"We probably got half as much again as we did last year," says foodbank manager Clare Cooper.


With heavy rain falling as the collection was about to start, some were wondering if the drive would be washed out.

"It's 4.30pm and it's pouring with rain and we went 'oh my goodness', so a lot of prayer went into that — not only did God stop the rain, the sun came out,'' says Clare, ''but the brigade were amazing, they would have done it anyway — just put their overalls on and gone for it.

"Already they are talking about what they can do better next year."

Clare made up small bags of food in appreciation for their efforts.

"Most of them didn't want to take them, but I said take them and pay it forward. I just wanted to acknowledge what they do because the turn out for them every year is just exceptional.

"We had some amazing testimonies. A couple of people were missed and were ringing to find out how to get their donations to us. One lady said 'come with me' and she had three boxes and said every time she went shopping she bought a can for the foodbank. A littlie came out with $1.50 pocket money she wanted to give - it was just amazing.

"I was moved to tears by the generosity of our community and the generosity of our fire brigade.''

Others people went to EmpowermentNZ to help and various businesses have also been in contact.


''We've had several families come in. One family has said 'we are all adults and we have decided that instead of buying each other presents that none of us need, we've all put our money in and come in with three boxes of groceries'.''

Clare says the food the collection brought in "sets us up for the end of the year" and means demand for Christmas food parcels should be met.

''Last December we did about 160 [parcels] and we are picking this year we will probably get close to 200. Our overall demand this year is up by 10-15 per cent.''

Cash reserves were also boosted by the collection and Clare says that means she will be
able to buy fresh food such as chicken.

She says the overall amount collected is difficult to assess.

''I don't even know how you begin to quantify it — I can't get over the givingness of our community, it's phenomenal.''

Te Puke Volunteer Fire Brigade station office Ivan Pilcher, who was heavily involved in organising the collection, says he was proud of the community and what it provided.

''We believe we covered most of town. There was possibly the odd street that we may have missed, but if people who were missed or who were out want to donate they can drop something into the foodbank.''

Around 15 volunteers took part in the collection, plus police officers.

''For me it's pay back to the community and that's what we are here for - the community.

■ More on the collections in Pukehina and Maketū: page 3.